With the media full of stories about the dangers to our health due to the emissions from diesel vehicles, there’s probably never been a better time to consider buying an all-electric car such as a Nissan LEAF.
The fact is that most motorists in the UK have still not driven an electric car. However, here at Green Car Guide, we’ve been involved in the My Electric Avenue trial, which has over 200 participants around the country driving Nissan LEAFs, so we can report on what they think about the car.
Although the trial is primarily focusing on what happens to the local electricity network when a number of neighbours in the same street charge their car at the same time, a wealth of feedback about the Nissan LEAF has also been gained.
Participants in My Electric Avenue overall share similar views to people in other electric vehicle trials that we’ve been involved in. The headline is that most people aren’t too sure about electric vehicles before they drive one, but having now leased a Nissan LEAF for 18 months, the majority of people in the trial are now converted – they would consider buying another electric vehicle rather than a petrol or diesel car.
The driving experience of the Nissan LEAF is usually the turning point for people. When they experience the powerful acceleration, combined with virtual silence and incredible refinement, most people are amazed and come to view petrol and diesel powertrains as old fashioned.
But the LEAF isn’t just impressive in a drag race, it also goes round corners well. Because the weight of the main component of the powertrain, the battery, sits under the floor, the lower centre of gravity means it has excellent handling.
Tens of thousands of cases of asthma and other respiratory problems in the UK are now attributed to diesel emissions. Although the media is currently focused on local air quality issues, when the Nissan LEAF was launched, the big issue in the media was CO2 emissions. In contrast the LEAF has zero tailpipe emissions – ie. no emissions impacting on climate change or on local pollution levels.
But participants in the My Electric Avenue trial say that the main benefit of running a Nissan LEAF is the amount of money they save on running costs. It costs just £1-£2, depending on your electricity tariff, to fully charge the car, giving a typical real-life range of between 80-100 miles. This equates to around one-fifth of the cost of fuelling a diesel car.
One trial participant pays nothing at all for fuelling his LEAF at certain times during the summer, as he has solar panels on his house, which generate sufficient power to charge the LEAF on sunny days.